A local report says that Nokia is considering setting up an MVNO in Japan
, focused on its high-end Vertu line of handsets. Nokia has a small presence in Japan, making it one place -- along with the US -- where its market share lags badly behind its 40 percent or so global share. It would be surprising to see Nokia make a big move into becoming a virtual operator in any market, given that it sells most of its handsets through operators, and wouldn't want to jeopardize those relationships in any way. However, for its Vertu line, it could be a useful model. Vertu devices aren't your typical mobile phone: they cost upwards of several thousand dollars, and often don't include features common on much cheaper devices. They eschew many technical features in favor of expensive build materials and a concierge service for its deep-pocketed customers. Vertu handsets aren't going to be sold by or subsidized by operators, so Nokia could benefit by bundling service with the device as a virtual operator, making the Vertu brand the only one that has any contact with the customer. Given the small number of devices it sells, operators aren't likely to mind too much. But if Nokia made a bigger grab for the mass market, they'd certainly take exception.